Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Catholics and human rights.

Some time ago the Vatican stopped its donations to Amnesty International. And now bishops in Northern Ireland have ordered Catholic schools there to ban Amnesty groups.

The reason ? Amnesty's definition of human rights includes a woman's right to choose. This was adopted not after some abstract ethical debate but as a specific policy in particular response to the widespread use of rape as a weapon of terror in the Balkans, Congo and Darfur.

Amnesty International debated this issue long and hard as it always bends over backwards to avoid adopting any position that can be seen as 'political'. I respect this and the pragmatic need to maximize their effectiveness by not compromising their 'impartial' stance. But of course ultimately it is nonsense - human rights are always going to be a political issue, and you can't help but offend someone by adopting a stance. Particularly bigots.

The kind of bigots whose message to refugees who are driven from their homes and subjected to systematic mass rape both as a means of repression and ethnic cleansing by 'breeding', is basically that they should put up and shut up. (Possibly 'offer up their suffering to God' - I never did understand that particular piece of sado-masochistic bollocks).

I shouldn't really be surprised though; this is the organisation that brought us the Holy Inquistion and the prescribed list. The real surprise is that there are any religious Amnesty groups at all.

Every religion will throw human rights out the window when it comes into contradiction with some 'sacred' belief, be it how we choose to dress, what we choose to eat, what we teach our children or our sexuality.

'Protect the human' is Amnesty's slogan these days - I would suggest that this can only genuinely be done by humanists.

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